The donkey basketball season comes to a close

  • The month of May signals the end of the season for one unusual equine pastime — donkey basketball.

    The sport was established in the US as a cheap form of entertainment during the Great Depression of the 1930s. It is mainly played at high schools to raise funds.

    But despite being banned in some states, including Ohio and New Jersey, “donkey ball” is thriving — especially in Iowa where 600 of Moravia’s 680 residents reportedly turned up to a recent charity fund-raiser at the high school.

    The game was hosted by Ohio-based Buckeye Donkey Ball, which has supplied donkeys for matches since 1934 and runs up to seven donkey ball events each week.

    Teams comprise four mounted competitors playing on a standard-size court. A fast- paced and often frustrating game, players may dismount and drag stubborn donkeys across the court — but must be mounted to throw the ball through the hoops and score.

    As the donkeys are partial to bucking, ducking and even lying down, players often end up on the floor during the 16-minute game. But they are not allowed to strike the donkeys — or pull on their ears, hair or tails.

    Kenny Schappacher from Buckeye said: “A lot of people don’t like donkey ball, but it’s just good old fun.”

    This article was first published in Horse & Hound (21 May, ’09)

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